Dalian Atkinson: Former Aston Villa footballer 'died after being Tasered and kicked in head by police'

Police officer Benjamin Monk denies murder after attempted arrest at a home near Birmingham in 2016

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 12:  Kevin Richardson of Aston Villa in action watched by Ian Sellley (l) Alan Smith (2nd r) and Dalian Atkinson (r) during a Premier League match between Arsenal and Aston Villa at Highbury on April 12, 1993 in London, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Allsport/Getty Images)

Former Aston Villa striker Dalian Atkinson died after being shot with a Taser three times and kicked at least twice to the head by an "angry" police officer, a murder trial jury heard.

The jury at Birmingham Crown Court was told West Mercia Police Constable Benjamin Monk, 42, denied the murder and manslaughter of Atkinson, 48, who also played for Ipswich and Sheffield Wednesday.

Opening the Crown's case against Mr Monk, who was charged after a three-year inquiry into Atkinson's 2016 death in Telford, Alexandra Healy, QC, said he was Tasered for 33 seconds, more than six times the standard five-second phase.

Ms Healy told the court on Tuesday that Atkinson, who had serious health problems including end-stage renal failure, moved towards the officers after they were called to a disturbance in Telford, about 1.30am.

The prosecutor said the third use of the Taser by Mr Monk was "completely effective", causing neuro-muscular incapacitation before Atkinson fell forwards on to the road.

"The standard default setting of a Taser is a five-second phase but it is possible to override that by continuing to depress the trigger," Ms Healy told the jury.

"And PC Monk continued to depress the trigger for over six times the length of a standard five-second phase. The Taser was deployed for 33 seconds.

"PC Monk also proceeded to kick Dalian Atkinson.

"At least two kicks were delivered by him to Dalian Atkinson's forehead with enough force to leave the imprints of the pattern of the laces from the top of his boot on two separate areas of Mr Atkinson's forehead."

Mr Monk's colleague, PC Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith, 31, is also facing trial charged with assault.

Ms Bettley-Smith has pleaded not guilty to a charge that she assaulted Atkinson occasioning actual bodily harm before his death on August 15, 2016.

Ms Healy claimed the younger officer struck Atkinson several times with her baton while he was lying on the ground.

She said the prosecution case would argue against self-defence by Mr Monk.

"In kicking Dalian Atkinson in the head not once, but on two separate occasions, PC Monk was not, the prosecution say, acting in self-defence or in defence of another," Ms Healy said.

"He was no doubt angry that he had been put in fear by this man. He chose to take that anger out on Dalian Atkinson by kicking him in the head.

"His training will have taught him, and it is obvious, that the head is a sensitive area."

He was no doubt angry that he had been put in fear by this man

The court heard Atkinson had been a successful professional footballer, playing for Aston Villa between 1991 and 1995.

"In more recent years he had had a number of serious health issues," Ms Healy said.

Describing his behaviour at the scene as disturbed and erratic, Ms Healy said: "He was shouting in the street, demanding to be let into his father's house."

After knocking at the door of the former footballer's father's home, Mr Monk tried to Taser Atkinson but it was ineffective, the court heard, possibly because the two probes did not attach properly.

Atkinson then came out of the house and walked to the end of the driveway prompting PC Monk to fire a second Taser cartridge, which was also ineffective, at his back.

The Crown alleged that Atkinson was then the subject of an unlawful attack after a Taser was used for a third time.

"A number of residents living in Meadow Close witnessed this attack," Ms Healy said.

"Their view was that once Dalian Atkinson had fallen to the ground he was unresponsive and still.

"He was no longer posing any threat to the officers. Nonetheless the two officers set about him.

"PC Monk is charged with murder. You will want to consider that allegation with very great care.

"A person is guilty of murder if he unlawfully – and by that I mean not acting in self defence – kills another with the intention of killing or the intention of causing grievous bodily harm to that other.

"The two officers on that night were on duty responding to an emergency call.

On any view, they were confronted with a man who was clearly acting in a disturbed and erratic way."